Vehicles frequently arriving — and quickly departing from — that neglected house down the block have neighbors suspecting the furtive couple who moved in two months ago might be selling drugs. But how can you report that suspicion — while remaining anonymous?
The Gila County Sheriff’s Office has an innovative answer: a new smartphone app launched a few weeks ago and announced on Sheriff Adam Shepherd’s Facebook page.
For users who have the app, the Sheriff’s Office is as near as a few taps on your smartphone screen. Available for both iPhone and Android operating systems, it’s a free download from the App Store — and screens-up quickly when you type “Gila County Sheriff’s Office” in the search box.
“Our new app has a variety of features that provide information and links in real time,” said Shepherd.
“Getting the word out about this free smartphone software also gives us a chance to remind drivers to hang up and drive — safety is the priority when you’re behind the wheel,” he added.
Early-adopter users agree the download is simple and quick, with features both useful and intuitive.
“Wow you guys are great!” wrote a recent subscriber who posted one of the first user reviews. “Using the newest technology to keep our communities safe! Thank you!”
The Gila County Sheriff’s Office app had been downloaded more than 475 times as of mid-October. Features include:
• See-and-Say to report speeders; with separate categories for motorists in northern and southern Gila County.
• We-Tip anonymous tip line, for users to report suspected neighborhood drug activity, burglary or other infractions.
• Contact — with phone numbers and social media links.
• Notifications — such as public safety alerts, or “Be-On-The-Lookout” posts, like the photo of a man and woman sought for questioning last month after a theft at the Payson Walmart.
• Mug shots — expected to be an often-used feature of the app, daily posts over the past week show men and women detained and facing charges ranging from aggravated assault; interfering with a judicial proceeding; disorderly conduct; possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia; failure to pay warrants; domestic violence; aggravated DWI; and driving with a suspended license.
• Gallery — One memorable recent addition to this online photo album shows Shepherd on horseback alongside Graham County’s sheriff, participating in the recent, and soggy, Graham County Fair parade.
• Recruiting: a link to read about jobs with the Sheriff’s Office, and find online applications. Jobs posts recently included administrative clerk, detention medical officer, deputy sheriff, 911 dispatcher, detention officer and nurse at the jail.
“Sheriff Adam Shepherd came up with the idea and we started researching how to make it happen,” said Undersheriff Mike Johnson.
“A core group of us, including the sheriff and administrative staff, began comparing the best features of similar apps, such as the Pinal County sheriff’s — and we used software designed by Logictree to design it, at a fraction of the cost of competing software that other law enforcement agencies have chosen. Cost, and the content we receive through Logictree, those were the deciding factors. Logictree provides the basic design template, and our staff develops our own content from there, a process of fine-tuning this to make it most useful to the public, and our officers,” Johnson explained.
Most useful options to the sheriff’s staff? Expanded ability to real-time message the public during emergencies and public safety alerts; the office has already embraced these lines of direct communication, creating a widespread Facebook community.
Likely to be most popular with users?
“By far, will be people’s interest in being able to view mug shots and read charges,” said Johnson, noting that the Sheriff’s Office has more than 6,000 followers on Facebook — arguably Gila County’s largest Facebook audience.
Designed with room to grow and evolve, watch for features such as “Drug Ed” to feature drug awareness, alerts and announcements.
Want to download the app using a QR code? Find links posted at facebook.com/Gila-County-Sheriffs-Office-641987809193824/
“I downloaded the Gila County Sheriff’s Office new mobile app and was very happy at how easy it was to install,” said Cheryal Taylor. “I really like the simplicity of the graphics and what they represent. The icons on the dashboard at the top encourage community participation, specifically the “See and Say” link, and the mug shots link. Community members can start helping their local law enforcement personnel with tips and possibly location of persons with warrants or other problems in a safe, quick manner. The Bulletins and Notifications functions are essential to communicating quickly and directly with the community, providing everyone starts using this new app. It is a good idea, long overdue, and will truly help the community policing concept, with everyone working together. Good job!”